Bus Rapid Transit Improves Property Values, Study Finds
Newswise – COLUMBUS, Ohio – A new study finds that so few cities in the United States have high-quality bus rapid transit systems, those that do are seeing benefits to nearby property values.
Researchers studied the impact of bus rapid transit (or BRT) systems on property values near 11 BRT systems in 10 US cities, noting that previous research has found that traditional bus services have usually a minor negative impact on nearby land values and apartment rental prices.
Although BRT has not had a negative impact in most of the cities studied, it has improved the value of multifamily properties in some cities such as Cleveland, which may be a model that other cities can follow. said Blake Acton, who led the study as a graduate student at Ohio State University.
“What we saw in Cleveland is something new and desirable, and people really want to live near the BRT system there,” Acton said. “This demonstrates that it is possible to build high-end BRT infrastructure and drive transit-oriented development in the United States.”
The study was published in the Journal of Transport Geography.
“Our results show that locations close to BRT systems in congested, growing cities with high transit ridership can see property values increase,” said study co-author Harvey Miller, professor of geography and director of the Center for Urban and Regional Analysis at Ohio State. “But high-quality BRT can have positive impacts in more cities.”
BRT differs from traditional bus service by seeking to provide faster and more efficient service through amenities such as dedicated bus lanes, greater frequency of service, priority at traffic lights, fare collection speedboats, raised platforms and improved stations.
However, most BRT systems in the United States lack key features – most importantly, bus-only lanes – and are often referred to as “BRT-lite”. In contrast, high-quality complete BRT systems include dedicated tracks.
BRT gained worldwide popularity at the turn of the century, but only 438 such systems exist in the United States today, or about 8.2% of the total length of the global system.
“BRT exists all over the world, not just in dense megacities,” Acton said. “BRT can connect pedestrian areas in cities that have always been very isolated.”
By comparing the before and after effect of BRT systems in 10 cities across the United States on house price data from 1990 to 2016, the study was able to determine that, unlike traditional bus services, BRT routes filled with equipment generally do not harm property. values. In addition to Cleveland, the study looked at BRT systems in Seattle, Eugene (Oregon), Oakland, Los Angeles, Kansas City, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Boston and Miami. The study also controlled for neighborhood attributes that might change over time, such as race, income, education, in addition to proximity to jobs and green spaces.
The results showed that three of the 11 BRT systems experienced increases in property values near stations, one system experienced a decrease, and the other seven showed no significant change.
The BRT can particularly benefit from the value of multi-family residences, according to the study.
“We created separate models where we only looked at single-family properties and multi-family properties, wherever there was enough to do so in the city,” Acton said. “When we looked at Cleveland, we found a huge difference between the two.”
Their findings showed that while single-family homes along the Cleveland Healthline system saw no change in their values, multi-family residences saw a 41.5% increase in their property values, compared to properties located in similar neighborhoods further away.
Acton said such a result suggests that bus rapid transit systems can have an overall positive impact on their neighboring communities.
The researchers said that the success of the Cleveland Healthline service in increasing property values can be attributed to the fact that it operates along a major thoroughfare, has dedicated bus lanes, and the corridor saw $7 billion in new investment, including major streetscape renovations. This contributed to a 138% increase in ridership over the bus service it replaced.
Multi-family buildings could be the main beneficiaries of the rise in real estate values linked to BRTs, as these bus systems facilitate car-free travel and thus encourage denser housing.
The results also indicated that a car-focused BRT station design may be more of a nuisance than a benefit to the neighborhood, Miller said.
“The only time BRT hurts property values is if you have stations surrounded by parking lots. This means that BRT stations are not within walking distance and are not well integrated into the city,” he said.
Overall, the study results suggest that BRT, if done well, can encourage denser housing and improve some real estate values, Miller said.
“Public transit is the backbone of a sustainable urban transportation system. I hope our study will encourage more communities to consider high-quality BRT as a viable option,” he said.